US, S. Korea to hold more naval drills

Associated Press / September 4, 2010

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SEOUL — South Korea and the United States will hold joint antisubmarine exercises in another show of force against North Korea, officials said yesterday, as Pyongyang renewed threats against the drills.

The exercises will be the second in a series of joint maneuvers the allies planned to conduct in response to the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March that they blame on the North. The two forces staged large-scale naval drills in July followed by South Korea’s own naval drills last month.

The drills, set to run from tomorrow through Thursday off the Korean peninsula’s west coast, will involve about 17,000 US and South Korean troops, seven ships, and two submarines as well as aircraft, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US military in Seoul.

The exercises are “designed to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea, while improving overall alliance antisubmarine warfare capabilities,’’ the US military in Seoul said in a statement.

The announcement of the drills comes as China reportedly conducted live-ammunition exercises in the Yellow Sea.

An international team of investigators concluded in May that a North Korean torpedo sank the South Korean warship Cheonan in late March near the Koreas’ western maritime border, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

North Korea, which denies any involvement in the sinking, has threatened to retaliate against South Korea and the United States over the drills, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for an invasion.

The United States keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea in what it says is a deterrent against any possible aggression from North Korea and says it has no intention of invading the North.

“Our military and people will deal a merciless blow if warmongers stage reckless provocation,’’ North Korea’s government-run website, Uriminzokkiri, said in a commentary yesterday.

North Korea often makes such threats, though the joint maneuvers in July and South Korea’s independent exercises took place without incident.

The two Koreas officially remain at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. top stories on Twitter

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